BRAZORIA — After welcoming 89 kids to Dream Camp in 2011, the enrollment doubled three years later. The increasing popularity saw 600 children register for the five-day camp at GMZ Education and Development Center, a limit imposed by organizers to ensure participants got the best camp experience possible.
Greater Mount Zion Church is the ideal, central location to host the Science, Math, Engineering and Technology-based camp, Pastor Roland Hendricks said. More than 60 teachers and assistants and 125 other volunteers came together to make this camp possible, he said.
Partnerships with TDECU, Dow Chemical Co., BASF, Phillips 66, Farmers Insurance, H-E-B and other businesses provide the support to make the week-long camp free for the attendees from all local school districts, Hendricks said.
“It’s been awesome,” he said, adding this is the best year yet.
The camp began Monday and the students learned about different subjects each day, said volunteer Albert Ogoe, a Dow engineer.
This included STEM topics as well as Junior Achievement, which taught the students about budgeting and decision making, and a Brazosport College instructor who taught the students about drones and robotics, Dream Camp Curriculum Director Sam Williams said.
On Friday, the students saw their lessons in action with hands-on experiments.
“They love the hands-on activities,” Williams said. “It’s minimal paper and pencil.”
The camp had to cut off registration June 3 because there is so much demand, he said.
“It’s going to grow,” Williams said. “This is the best of the nine years we’ve ever had.”
Alyssa Case, who will start fifth grade at Southside Elementary School in Angleton next month, said she plans to come back next year.
“A lot of people should go and the teachers are very nice,” Alyssa said.
The elementary student wants to incorporate math into her career one day, she said.
“It’s pretty awesome and you get to learn a lot,” Alyssa said.
Her favorite experiment was when they dropped a Mentos candy into Diet Coke, which made a volcano, she said.
This is a physical reaction caused by carbon dioxide bubbles, Dow Engineer Marcus Rideaux said. He volunteers at the camp since he attended engineering camps as a kid and wants to give back, he said.
There will be a deficit of people to fill STEM jobs in the future, Dow Engineer Austin Hardin said, so camps like this get kids interested at a young age to help fill that gap.
“It can be fun,” Hardin said. “It can be interesting.”
This camp showed kids how their jobs at Dow actually put their math and science skills to work, Ogoe said. It also showed kids that they can be successful in a STEM career no matter their financial situation, Hardin said.
Local teachers create the curriculum taught at the camp, so the students are a step ahead for the next school year, Hendricks said.
Lynn Bellard, who will start fifth grade at Clute Intermediate School in the fall, likes history and aspires to be a Major League Baseball player, said the camp was good.
His favorite part was the hands-on experiments, Lynn said.
Jayson Campbell, who will start fifth grade at Sweeny Elementary in the fall, said he likes math and science at school.
Jayson’s favorite part of the camp was building a raft out of bubble wrap, rubber bands and polystyrene, he said. The raft had to be strong enough to float a marble, but it wasn’t hard, he said.